Stieren Center for Exhibitions

  • Project Overview

    In June 2008 a newly opened modernist glass pavilion nearly doubled the size of the McNay Art Museum.

    The $33.1 million Jane & Arthur Stieren Center for Exhibitions, set amid 23 acres of gardens, has been designed by Jean Paul-Viguier.

    A Paris based architect, Viguier is known for a number of acclaimed large scale projects in his country and abroad: the Parc André Citroën, the largest Park in Paris since the Second Empire; two towers in La Defense, Paris; the archeological museum at the Pond du Gard, Nimes; and the new Museum of Natural History, Toulouse.

    The Stieren Center is Viguier’s first museum project in the United States. It is also the first museum expansion in the U.S designed by a French architect.

    Cost / Funding

    Construction Cost: 23.5 million
    Total Project Cost: 33.1 million
    Major Funding: Jane and Arthur Stieren, The Tobin Endowment, AT&T, The Brown Foundation and the Ewing Halsell Foundation.

    Construction Timetable

    Public Opening: June 7 2008
    Ground Breaking: September 2006
    Design Competition: 2003

    Architectural Team:

    Jean-Paul Viguier designed the new Jane and Arthur Stieren Center for Exhibitions with project architect Blin Trincal of Jean-Paul Viguier S.A. d’architecture. Directing the building project on behalf of the McNay are Robert Portnoff, AIA, and Antonio Dominguez of the Paratus Group of New York.

    San Antonio-based Ford Powell & Carson, Inc., a multi-disciplinary design firm with deep roots in south Texas, is executive architect for the Stieren Center. Ford Powell & Carson knows the McNay well having expanded the museum in several increments between 1970 and 1982. Founder O’Neil Ford (1905-1982) dominated the architectural scene in San Antonio during the middle decades of the 20th century as an adept practitioner of regionally sensitive design.
    Design Concept

    Convinces that works of art are best experiences in natural light, Jean-Paul Viguier has designed a deceptively simple glass pavilion to modulate the intense light of south Texas and delight the eye.

    The architect has maximized the use of glass so that it functions as a shed roof and a diaphanous ceiling, as well as a curtain wall for viewing the sculpture garden.

    Viguier introduced dramatic wavelike contours into the sloping garden that roots his delicate, translucent two-story box.


    Chinese Louyan Green Stone
    Lase-Cut Aluminum Panels
    Oil Ribbed Bronze
    Low-Iron Glass
    Silkscreen Laminated Lay Light Glass
    White Glass
    Merbau Hardwood
    Tinted Pear Wood Acoustic Panels


    Gross: 45, 000 sq. ft.
    Gallery Space: 14, 000 sq. ft.
    Public Space: 10, 000 sq. ft.
    Floors: 2 levels
  • Highlights

    Glass and Steel Roof System: A glass and steel roof system, approximately seven feet thick, modulates the flow of natural light into the galleries. Fixed louvers, automated horizontal shades, and silk screened glass panels tune the natural light as appropriate for the changing exhibitions.

    A deep roof-overhang cantilevers over the façade, augmented by light-filtering shades, to protect interior galleries from direct light.

    Sculpture Gallery: A 200-foot-long gallery with a south facing glass curtain wall overlooks the new sculpture gardens and opens out onto an elevated outdoor space, The Brown Foundation Sculpture Terrace. The cantilevered roof overhang shades the gallery, supplemented by light-filtering shades.

    Sculpture Garden: On the lower level of the Stieren Center’s front façade, the glass courtain wall plays peek-a-boo with the grounds—opening out onto the sculpture garden, then disappearing behind a paved terrace, opening out again behind a planted slope.

    From the sculpture garden, stone partitions align with the building’s grid to delineate outdoor galleries and prolong the experience of the building. Meandering pathways offer views of sculpture, gardens, and the McNay’s architecture, new and old. The Carol and Charles E. Foster Sculpture Promenade guides visitors to and from the Center and the parking area.
  • Stieren Center Room By Room

    Upper Level

    • Tobin Exhibition Galleries:
    • The main expansion to the museum containing 7,500 sq. ft. of gallery space with adjustable glass roof to regulate natural light

    • Sculpture Gallery:
    • A 200-foot-long gallery with south facing glass curtain wall overlooking the new sculpture gardens

    • AT&T Lobby:
    • A light filled 1,800 sq. ft. lobby highlighted with glass bronze architectural elements and gray-green stone

    • Ewing Halsell Foundation Reception Gallery:
    • 1,000 sq. ft. reception area with connecting staircase and elevators

    • McNay Museum Store:
    • 1,000 sq. ft. store adjoined the Reception Gallery

    Lower Level

    • The Elizabeth and William J. Chiego Lecture Hall:
    • a 226 seat lecture hall with sloped and staggered seating for lecture, performances and film presentations. Clad in pear wood acoustic panels and green and beige Arne Jacobsen upholstered seating
    • Garden Galleries:
    • Four- 750 sq. ft. galleries situated directly under the sculpture gallery

    • Garden Decorative Arts Gallery:
    • A gallery for exhibiting small-scale sculpture and decorative arts

    • Charles Butt Paperworks Gallery:
    • An enclosed gallery sheltered from natural light ideal for exhibiting works on paper

    • Garden Lobby:
    • The lobby for the Valero Learning Centers and Chiego Lecture Hall

    • Sculpture Gallery:
    • A 200-foot-long gallery with south facing glass curtain wall overlooking the new sculpture gardens

    • Valero Learning Centers:
    • Two new centers comprising 1,200 sq. ft. of space, equipped with state-of-the-art technology for video and digital presentations

    Outdoor Spaces

    • Sculpture Gardens:
    • Three outdoor sculpture galleries separated by walls that are an extension of the Center’s architecture into the landscape. The garden is the first of its kind in South Texas

    • Brown Foundation Sculpture Terrace:
    • Located at the west end of the Sculpture Gardens this terrace is prominently positioned off the AT&T Lobby and connects to the Sculpture Garden

    • The Children’s Landing:
    • An Area sheltered by a brise soleil where groups can gather

    • Sculpture and Entry Promenades:
    • Meandering pathways running east-west through the Sculpture Gardens

    • Carol and Charles E. Foster Sculpture Promenade:
    • A wide, graduated, walkway links the new museum parking area to the AT&T Lobby
  • Jean-Paul Viguier

    Jean Paul Viguier has played a leading role in French architecture since the early '80s as architect, urban planner, teacher, and producer of bookd on Eileen Gray, Gabriel Guévrékian, and Jean Ginsberg. Today the Viguier Atelier is known for creating dramatic yet formally rigorous skyscrapers, large-scale hospital, corporate and mixed-use complexes, cultural and urban development projects in France, China, Malaysia, Hungary and Spain.

    The architect's only previous commission in the United States- downtown Chicago's tilted, prism-shaped Sofitel Water Tower (1998)- was named to the "America's 150 Best Loved Buildings" list by the American Institute of Architects (AIA) earlier this year.

    Viguier is perhaps best known for designing the largest park in Paris since the Second Empire, the Parc Citroën in the 15th arrondissement. He as tapped for the assignment by Jacques Chirac, then Mayor of Paris. Other well known projects include two of the most visible towers in the La Défense district of Paris, glass and steel mediatheque across from the Reims Cathedral, and the French Pavilion for the World Fair in Seville in 1992, which became the exposition’s most frequented pavilion.

    While the Stieren Center for exhibitions is Viguier’s first museum in the U.S., the archeological museum he designed on the site on the Pont du Gard in Nimes, one of the projects classified as “Grands Travaux” by Giscard d’ Estaing (1974-1981), the president of France, has received numerous awards. In January 2008, his much awaited Museum on Natural History opened in Toulouse.

    Most recently, Jean-Paul Viguier has received many honors. He has been named a Chevalier de l’Odre National du Merite, and an Officer de ‘Odre des Artes et Lettres. He has served as president of the Académe d’ Architecture. In 1999, he received the Business Week award from the American Institute of Architects (AIA) for the headquarted he designed for Astra-Zeneca, a Swedish pharmaceutical company, in the Reuil-Malmaison subiurb of Paris. Appointed Honorary Fellow of the American Institute of Architects (FAIA) in 2001, Viguier received the prestigious 2003 Best New Building in Chicago award, given by the Friends of Downtown Chicago and AIA for his highly acclaimed design of th Accor Sofitel Tower Hotel.

    Qualified and the Beaux-Arts school in Paris in 1970, Jean-Paul Viguier attended Harvard University on an Arthur Sachs Fellowship, graduating in 1973 as a Master of City Planning and Urban Design. In his early years as an architect, he worked with John de Monchaux on the Milton Keynes New Town project in England, joined the advisory group of the review Urbanisime, where he stayed eight years and wrote extensively on urban architecture. As well as creating a collection of books on modernism, he created and fondly remembered well receive video on new architecture entitled “Metope.”

    Viguier founded Viguier s.a. d’ Architecture firm after 18 years as principal of Viguier-Jodry & Associates Partnership.



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